ALAMEDA – Veteran defensive end Justin Tuck believes the Raiders defense can be dominant. He sees potential in the unit from preseason actions in practice and play.
He also knows those thoughts don’t mean much. At this stage, before a meaningful snap has been taken, Tuck’s caution is certainly appropriate. Despite the positive Raiders talk over the past few weeks and months, the Raiders haven’t done anything. Rhetoric doesn’t win football games. Talent and smart actions do.
“I think we have a defense that can be reckoned with in this league,” Tuck said Tuesday. “I’ve been around a long time and have learned that, sometimes you can surprise yourself one way or the other. We’re working every day to build this defense and become a powerhouse but, until we go out there and do it, I’m going to reserve my accolades until we’ve actually earned them.”
These Raiders will finally make a first impression on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals at O.co Coliseum. Many believe it could be a positive one. The defense is fresh and healthy. The offense has new weapons. The Raiders should be able to compete. We’ll see on Sunday.
Tuck is entering his 11th season, with most of a long career spent perfecting winning ways. The New York Giants went 7-9 in 2013, Tuck’s first losing season since getting drafted in 2005. He made five playoff appearances and won two Super Bowls in that span.
Tuck isn’t used to this losing stuff, and has never experienced anything like last year’s 3-13 debacle that started with 10 straight losses.
He spent time praising the 2014 Raiders’ potential, only to struggle through a difficult season. He isn’t doing that this time. So, when asked about a clearly deeper and improved Raiders defensive line, he deferred his true answer to the winter. Why?
“They haven’t done a thing. None of us have,” Tuck said. “Until we go out there on Sunday and prove it…I could give everyone accolades all day. I’ve done that before and then we go out and get our butt whooped.
"What I’m excited about is that we’ve gotten better every week. Hopefully we can continue to do that this season. Ask me that question again in February. Hopefully I’ll have a great answer for you.”